” The recent history of Afghanistan can be seen as a series of failed attempts to establish a modern state, adopting the ends of an external third party. “. This is the summary of the book by independent journalist Khaled Mansour, Min Taliban ila Taliban. Mochahadate Amel Ighassa in Afghanistan (From the Taliban to the Taliban. Observations of a humanitarian worker in Afghanistan), recently updated to better respond to current problems.
The author deals, with all subtlety, with the history of the country ravaged by conflicts: a civil war between the different factions, on the one hand, and a war against the great powers that intend to carry out their intentions, for more than half a century, on the other hand.
Khaled Mansour transcribed his observations during a mission with the United Nations in Afghanistan in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The first edition of this book dates from 2010. Then, with the return of the Taliban to power, in August 2021, Mansour thought about updating his book, adding references on history, politics, as well as press reports published by international organizations working on the ground. These corroborate the facts reported in his diary, as a humanitarian worker. Having lived in the country for more than three years, during and after the first era of Taliban rule, he cites harrowing details. The book focuses primarily on the last forty years of Afghanistan’s history from the Soviet invasion, the years of jihad, and the rise of the Taliban, then the US occupation and overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, until when they return in 2021. .
According to Mansour, the tribal composition of Afghan society, the succession of civil conflicts and foreign interventions have complicated any humanitarian action. This resulted in a disastrous situation. Scarcity and dry spells mean Afghans can only find “ cicadas mixed with herbs for food “. Mansour says that one of his colleagues in the humanitarian field whom he met in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, assured him that ” the US campaign was a military success, but it was a disaster in terms of humanitarian and human rights conditions “. The humanitarian missions were also difficult due to the radical instructions of the Taliban. They prohibited the aid workers from meeting with the women”, and therefore it was impossible in Kabul to enter the houses of widows to observe how they lived, as long as there were no men with them. “However, fearing the cancellation of humanitarian aid, the Taliban ended up allowing them to enter the widows’ houses, on the condition that they be accompanied by Afghan women during the visits.
From one war to another
According to the author, Afghanistan has suffered successive wars since the 19th century. After the Second Anglo-Afghan War, the British deprived Afghanistan of certain territories.
The country became a buffer state between the British Empire and Russia between 1879 and 1919, while remaining independent in terms of internal politics. In 1919, the country regained control of its foreign policy and joined the League of Nations in 1921. Then, in the 1970s, the Republic of Afghanistan was proclaimed. The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan is part of the context of the Cold War: the United States supported Pakistan against India, and the former Soviet Union supported Afghanistan, which, since 1919, had territorial claims on the Pashtun regions of Pakistan. In 1979, Soviet troops intervened militarily in Afghanistan. A long war pitted Soviet and Afghan communist forces against the mujahideen, armed and supported by Pakistan, the United States, China and Iran. Soviet forces withdrew from the country in 1989. The Islamic State of Afghanistan was established in 1992, but a new civil war pitted the different factions against each other and clashes continued in Kabul between the Taliban, government forces (Massoud) and mujahideen (Hekmatyar). The Taliban took advantage of this to seize power in 1996. But the fight against them continued. In late 2001, his regime was defeated by an international coalition led by the United States.
For twenty years, the Taliban waged a long guerrilla war. And in 2021, the US withdrew its troops, allowing the Taliban to regain power in Kabul without a fight. Due to issues of internal security, corruption and its history of conflict and occupation, the country is in 2021 one of the poorest on the planet. Totally dependent on international aid.
” Most of the human suffering that I have observed during my fieldwork, in many parts of the world over the last ten years, poverty, famine and disease… is caused by human beings and is not the direct result of floods, earthquakes, droughts . or the cruelty of nature “, emphasizes the author, who included in his book photos taken in Afghanistan, which show the distribution of aid and the suffering of civilians at all levels.
Min Taliban ila Taliban. Mochahadate Amel Ighassa fi Afghanistan (From Taliban to Taliban. Observations of a humanitarian worker in Afghanistan), by Khaled Mansour, Al-Maraya editions, 2022, 282 pages.